One Year On – Gloomhaven

So, it’s been a year already since my Gloomhaven solo review, where has that time gone? Considering it is my all-time favourite game it hasn’t hit the table once in the last year. Why? Because it is my favourite game, that’s why!

Gloomhaven Box Art

Okay, that might sound a bit contradictory but it’s true. Gloomhaven only comes out to play when I know I can leave it set up for some time. I like to play several scenarios, one after the other, and I like to savour the moment, taking my time and immersing myself into the game. This last year the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself, certainly not for solo play, but I remain ever hopeful.

The fact I haven’t played it hasn’t changed how I feel about the game, and I know that when it does come off the shelf it will be like meeting an old friend, having a few beers, and reliving the good times. The characters, and the stories I have created for them (all in my mind of course!), will come alive again, and the world into which they adventure will continue to surprise.

Delicious choices will be presented every time one of them levels up – the tactical deckbuilding never fails to enthral me – and the battles will demand my full attention so that nothing goes awry. And what battles they are. Juicy choices as I ponder the cards. Intense moments when I open a door. The excitement as a plan succeeds. The shock as my favourite character goes down under a barrage of blows, my fists pumping the air in denial and thirst for vengeance. This is a game that lets you ride a crest of emotions and leaves you tired and mentally exhausted in your chair and yet still begging for more.

Yes, it has its faults, more so solo, such as the lengthy set-up time and the amount of admin you’ll be doing (sorting decks, levelling up, etc.). The movement and attacks of the bad guys can also take some getting used to, and it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re still learning (or coming back to the game after a good break), but the pros far out way these few minor things.

And then there’s Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, a kind of Gloomhaven Lite, which eases you into the mechanisms and does away with the map tiles, instead scenarios are played out on the scenario book itself, much reducing the set-up and storage hassle of its big brother. So, for all those who love tactical battles, RPGs, and dungeon crawlers, there really is no reason for you not to have a copy of this game – Gloomhaven or Gloomhaven Lite – and best of all there’s another iteration on the horizon, Frosthaven, which might prove to be the Daddy of them both; I await with bated breath!

Finally, I am asked the question why I’ve only ever played solo. At the time I bought it nearly everything I played was solo, and so off I went into the campaign, alone, but armed with a mighty imagination. In more recent times my daughter has become my gaming buddy, and now I find I can’t sit down to play anything solo because a little voice chirps up that she wants to play too (okay, it’s a mighty loud and often insistent voice, and she hasn’t chirped since she was about 2!). So, you’d think I’d have introduced her to my favourite game and shared with her the wonderous things it holds…?

No chance! There’s no way I’m letting her into the beloved world I have created, playing the characters all wrong and changing their decks so that they play totally different. Start a campaign afresh, what, are you out of your mind? I don’t want to know what would have happened if I’d done X instead of Y, not until the campaign has been completed and maybe not even then. And then what about revealing cards I’ve yet to come across in my campaign? Nooooooo!!!

Gloomhaven is my baby. The world is my world, and the characters all have the personalities that I gave them. They have grown as the game has developed – yes, I even keep a book highlighting how they react and make their decisions (Come on, bet I’m not the only one…. am I?). This ownership of the world is what has kept me playing solo, it’s also what makes this game great.

Knowing what I know now, would I still have bought it? Duh, yeah!

Will it remain in my collection? Why do I ask such silly questions – of course it will, forever and a day!

One Year On – Gloomhaven is still at the top of the BGG charts and for good reason. It still feels fresh, with its distinctive tactical combat, unique characters, and immersive world, and may only fall from its mantle when Frosthaven releases. Personally, I can’t sing its praises loud enough and though I don’t play nearly as much as I would like, it’s still the one game I’d save if the house caught fire, though carrying it might be the death of me!

Read the review here

11 thoughts on “One Year On – Gloomhaven

  1. Wow, i loved reading your enthusiasm for Gloomhaven Justin and the world it had created iin your mind.
    Do you have Frosthaven coming?
    I have heard Middara is a dungeon crawl epic but more story driven, any thoughts?
    As always your painting is top notch!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mark.
      Yes, Frosthaven is backed and eagerly awaited.
      I did consider Middara, but I felt I’d got enough of that type of game and Frosthaven will be turning up soon too, so I passed it by – that type of game just absorbs time, and at the moment I’m turning towards shorter games, as they’re easier to get to the table.
      Thanks for the comment on my painting, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to read your thoughts on the game Justin, and even though you haven’t played in a year your love for the game hasn’t diminished.
    As for not letting your daughter play, is it a case that her tactical mind may beat you ? LOL I’m sure you’ll let her play when you’re ready.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. LOL! Fortunately, Gloomhaven is co-op so I’m safe there. I have promised that when Frosthaven appears on the scene then we shall venture out into its world together… Aaaah!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha, I did smile, and imagined you thinking (not saying out loud of course) “NO! It’s MY game! You want to play, you get your own!”! 🙂 Nice to know that it is a game you really like and can come back to!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, that’s about about right… I’m pretty sure I didn’t say it out loud, but something might have been muttered under my breath!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can relate to how you describe the joys of solo gaming. There is something nice about playing a game exactly how you want, in your own world, and at your own pace. Gloomhaven is a game that I’ve dismissed because it looks too intense for me to keep up with. Gloomhaven-lite could be up my alley though. I’ve been yearning for a dungeon crawler, especially since I got rid of Mansions of Madness. If I don’t have to paint anything to play it then all the better considering how much I have to paint as it is. Following your site is as dangerous for my wallet as ever, my friend! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah, Gloomhaven is awesome solo. I can take my time, Role-play the characters (they all have their own personality), and immerse myself into the world. It does get intense at times, especially when things aren’t going the characters way, but that only makes the game better in my opinion.
      It’s a far more involving game than MoM, having to carefully consider how to play the deck your character has, but if you like that thing then you wont find many games that have this level of tactical combat.
      I blame PayPal – it makes it far too easy to buy more games!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That does sound like a lot of fun… I have somehow fallen into the board game black hole and am considering getting all kinds of games after the wedding in addition to playing plenty more Arkham Horror: The Card Game. I’m not really sure why I’ve suddenly found a bunch of solo-friendly games that I want to try because many of them are not new but here I am regardless 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Unfortunately, the list of wants never gets any smaller 🤔.
        I only ever consider games that have a solo option, unless I know my daughter will definitely play. I like to have the option of playing in a group or solo, otherwise some games just wouldn’t get played.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Great minds think alike! I’m the same way after buying a couple of games I never played because my brother moved away. I tend to gravitate towards FFG/Ameritrash style games so that helps me be more selective too since they’re usually more expensive and take up more space. We’ll see what I end up doing as I’m getting closer and closer to buying something…

        Liked by 2 people

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